The Transformation by James Gordon, MD – A Review


The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma by James Gordon, MD
Mental Health | Psychology | Nonfiction
Published by HarperOne
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

Note: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinions.

I’ve frequently written about my struggles with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder on this blog, and I always look forward to reviewing books that deal with mental illness. When FSB Associates reached out to me to ask if I’d like to review Dr. James Gordon’s new book, The Transformation, I jumped on the chance. Despite not being familiar with the author’s name, I had definitely heard of his organization, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine.

It took me a while to read through this book, but that was only because the information contained within it was so helpful, and I wanted to try out all of Gordon’s advice. I went through a whole stack of sticky notes annotating this book so that I could come back to it over and over again.

The Transformation is a book meant to help people deal with trauma through methods other than being prescribed antidepressants and other drugs. One thing to note is that Dr. Gordon doesn’t think that medications are bad, in fact, he writes in multiple places that they are useful if needed, but that the techniques in this book can be used before resorting to taking pills.

Of course, the advice and techniques contained in this book can be used if you’re already on various medications, such as I am. Medication only goes so far, and it’s always nice to have other methods for handling the bad symptoms of mental illness.

One aspect of this book that immediately drew me to it was Dr. Gordon’s definition of trauma. Whereas many people think of trauma as something rare, he defines it as something that everyone experiences – from violence and war to losing your loved ones to being fired from a job. It’s this definition that I feel should be the correct one. So many of us can point to at least one traumatic experience in our past that we are still trying to overcome, and as such, The Transformation is a book that I would recommend to everyone.

James Gordon author photo (credit Rebecca Hale).jpg
Dr. James S Gordon

Within the book, Gordon gives us plenty of examples of how his methods have worked for different groups of people, from survivors of brutal wars, to business people, to first responders, and everyone else.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first of some of the advice, particular what he calls “shaking and dancing.” Essentially, this is similar to ecstatic dancing, which I’m familiar with (it was popular when I lived in Asheville) but that I’ve never done. Well, I tried it while reading this book, and let me tell you – it really did help loosen me up when I was stressed and anxious. It left me feeling more energized. My full-time job is at a call center that deals with auto insurance, and it’s the most stressful and demeaning job that I’ve ever had. This past week, I’ve taken to hiding in bathroom stalls when I feel like I’m on my way to having another panic attack in order to “shake things off,” and it has really improved things for me. While it’s not going to solve the fact that my job worsens my mental health or that I have anxiety, it is a useful method for dealing with it in the moment.


Another part of The Transformation that I really appreciated was the chapter on diet and mental health. I’ve always been fascinated by how the foods we eat can influence our mood and mental health, and it’s a section of the book that I will definitely be referencing frequently.

I’m not going to go into detail into every technique that Dr. James Gordon discusses, because I think you should get it directly from the book. What I do want to say is that I am incredibly thankful to the publisher for reaching out to me for a review, because it’s already improving my life. I doubt I would have picked this up otherwise, but I’m so, so happy that I’ve read it.

If there’s any part of your past or present that is causing you stress or anxiety, please find a copy of this book when it’s released on September 10th. Whether you purchase a copy or request a copy from your library, just get it into your hands and read it.

Need some other mental health books to hold you over until September 10th?

Perfectly Hidden Depression | Healthy as F*ck

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Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – A Review


Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Graphic Novel | Humor | Mental Illness | Nonfiction
Published by Gallery Books
Released October 29, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

I remember the first time I came across Allie Brosh’s webcomic, Hyperbole and a Half, and I read her comics on dealing with depression. They immediately struck a chord with me, and I understood her own plight completely, as it wasn’t that far from my own.

Hyperbole and a Half is Allie Brosh’s first book, which is a collection of stories from her webcomic. The book is made up of several topics, with Brosh’s recognizable drawing style. The topics deal with depression, finding a letter that her younger self had written to her future self, her lack of motivation, childhood mischief, her two dogs, and so much more.


This collection is so hilarious that I was literally laughing out loud, while my boyfriend looked at me as though I were crazy (books rarely make me laugh). I loved this book so much and identified with so much of it that I’m definitely going to be buying my own copy to read over and over again.

Unfortunately, Brosh doesn’t appear to be updating her blog anymore, the last update coming in 2013, which is a damn shame. She did write a second book, called Solutions and Other Problems that I will for sure be seeking out.

If you’ve dealt with depression, psychotic dogs, a lack of motivation, or just being plain weird, you’ll probably find this book very relatable. It’s so wonderful to read. It was so easy to give this graphic novel five stars – it absolutely deserves it!

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Perfectly Hidden Depression by Margaret Robinson Rutherford – A Review


Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression by Margaret Robinson Rutherford, PhD
Non-Fiction | Mental Health | Self-Help
Published by New Harbinger Publications
Expected Release Date: November 1, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars
ARC provided for free by Netgalley for review

I’ve written many times on Read Yourself Happy about my struggle with depression, anxiety, and my recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder. As far back as middle school, I was suffering from depression and didn’t receive any mental health care until 2018, nearly fifteen years too late.

When I saw Dr. Margaret Robinson Rutherford’s book, Perfectly Hidden Depression, available for review on NetGalley, I instantly downloaded it. Part of my goal for Read Yourself Happy has always been to promote wellness, specifically where mental health is concerned.

In this new book, due to be released in November 2019, Rutherford talks about an obscure form of depression marked by completely hiding your symptoms and being a perfectionist. Whereas with normal depression, people will notice your lethargy or increasingly sad moods, people with Perfectly Hidden Depression (or PHD, as she calls it in the book) outwardly show no signs of being depressed.

For people who are perfectionists, how others perceive you is incredibly important, and showing your vulnerability is not an option. You might hide your symptoms so well that even the people closest to you might have no idea what you’re really going through.

The book is perfect for people who think they might be experiencing this sort of depression and want to do something about it. Each section of the book is followed by a journal prompt to help you reflect on yourself and your own habits. I like that with a book such as this one, you’re able to move at your own pace and spend plenty of time on the prompts and reflections. There are also real-life stories about Dr. Rutherford’s patients and how they learned to deal with PHD.

I do not have what Dr. Rutherford calls “Perfectly Hidden Depression;” my depression is of the more typical variety. However, if you recognize that your perfectionism is causing you to internalize your depression and you want a way out of that suffering, I highly recommend this book.

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